"I always thought Dumbledore was gay." Those words, spoken by J.K. Rowling in October of 2007, were the first of a long line of character reveals about Rowling would give out over the next decade. But while some fans were over the moon to learn Harry's beloved professor was part of the LGBTQ community, others criticized that she left him in the closet until all seven books were out, lest there be some sort of backlash. With the new series, we have an opportunity to correct that. Is Dumbledore gay in Fantastic Beasts? Will the series finally acknowledge on screen what was never actually written on the page, or even hinted at in the movies?
For those who were hoping this would be the chance for the series to actually have Dumbledore come out of the closet, I'm afraid there's nothing but disappointment to come. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, director David Yates says that Dumbledore will maintain his closeted ways from the original series and that the movie will in no way show him to be "explicitly" gay.
Not explicitly. But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology and each other.
To be clear, that's all the books ever said too. And until Rowling "outed" Dumbeldore, anyone who ever wondered if there might have been something between Grindelwald and Dumbledore always stressed that what they loved about each other were their "ideas."
So, since we're not getting an outwardly gay Dumbledore, what sort of Dumbledore are we getting? Yates happily fills us in:
He’s a maverick and a rebel and he’s an inspiring teacher at Hogwarts. He’s witty and has a bit of edge. He’s not this elder statesman. He’s a really kinetic guy. And opposite Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, they make an incredible pairing.
As one might imagine, fans are very displeased about this. There was already a sense that Rowling was basically getting the credit she hadn't earned by waiting to make Dumbledore gay retroactively. (There were also complaints of this nature when she embraced "Black Hermione" for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.) At the time Rowling really thought she was done with the Potter series, there were no more portrayals of Dumbledore to worry about. Now that that's changed and the series is still refusing to depict him as gay on screen, it's starting to feel a touch hollow.
As Vanity Fair's Joanna Robinson put it:
Still, it's hard to fault Yates' instinct here. (Unlike his decisions on Johnny Depp.) This is the year 1927. The sexual revolution and gay rights didn't become a visible thing until the 1960s and '70s. Being openly gay simply wasn't a thing in this time period. Men who lived together were merely "confirmed bachelors" who no one thought twice about being companions and friends.
So while it is extraordinarily disappointing to learn that the series isn't taking advantage of some of this after-the-fact diversity that Rowling has added to her wizarding world, one could argue it is the correct choice for the time period. Even if it's a time period in a made up fantasy world where people travel via fireplaces with explosive powders and keep suitcases with entire fantasy zoological gardens inside.
Fantastic Beast 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald should be releasing their first full-length trailer soon, we'll be keeping our eyes peeled for that. The film arrives in theaters around the world this coming Nov. 16, 2018.